What is it like working as an Associate Professor, Postsecondary / Higher Education at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)?
Associate Professor, Postsecondary / Higher Education in Richmond:
"Experience As A Faculty Member In The VCU School Of Medicine."
Pros: Although VCU is not a top tier university, it has a number of top tier groups and/or departments. I am a faculty member in one of these (a stand-alone research institute) and collaborate actively with another (a basic science department in the medical school. As a result, my grant funding and research profile are substantially better than the average for the university or the school of medicine as a whole. I work in the area I am most fascinated by (one where the patient population are decidedly underserved, and one where, although challenging in the extreme, there is substantial progress to be made and even minor progress may impact the lives of patients directly. Richmond is a small city lacking much of what I love about big cities (I lived for a combined total of more than 20 years in New York and London), it is much more affordable than larger cities and is a very safe and easy place to have children, unlike large metropolitan areas.
Cons: 1. Metastatic administration with constantly increasing amount of required oversight and paperwork that (to my cynical eye) has little impact on quality or performance.
2. Virginia has an extremely slow-moving culture. As a result of this, state institutions lag far behind my perception of those in other states that seem better prepared to deal with the challenges of 21st century biomedical research. This is an issue of major importance because VCU is a state (properly commonwealth) institution subject to an additional layer of state level rules and bureaucracy. Much of this seems to be out of date and inappropriate for the needs of a contemporary university.
3. Poor planning: funds are regularly made available for the acquisition of equipment without recognizing that skilled technicians and faculty are required to make these investments pay off.
4. Rules governing expenditure of grant dollars make the university less competitive than it should be.